Two general FE colleges among backers in new round of UTCs announced by Chancellor George Osborne

A new round of University Technical Colleges (UTCs), involving two general FE colleges, has been announced by Chancellor George Osborne (pictured).

Bromley College and Sheffield College were among those to win approval for seven new UTCs to add to the 17 currently operating and 33 in development.

Five universities are behind the other new UTCs, along with employers including Bentley, Kodak and McCain Foods (GB).

Mr Osborne, who also announced four new studio schools to take the total open and in development to 49, said: “UTCs are a key part of the government’s long term economic plan because they help ensure young people have the right skills so they can maximise their potential.

“The new colleges will provide the next generation of British workers with the skills they need to secure the high tech jobs of the future.”

The announcement comes just two months after Bedford College stepped in to take over at Central Bedfordshire UTC at the request of then Education Secretary Michael Gove after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted. And the Black Country UTC was given a grade three rating last year. However, Staffordshire’s JCB Academy, which turned into a UTC in January last year, received a good rating from Ofsted in June.

The new UTCs’ announcement also comes despite growing concerns that UTCs were under-subscribed, with figures released late last year showing that some had been running at less than 30 per cent capacity. The 150-pupil Central Bedfordshire UTC was just 30 per cent full for 2012/13, while the 480-pupil Black Country UTC, near Birmingham, was 36 per cent full. A further three opened at the beginning of 2012/13 but the combined figure for all five UTCs was still only 57 per cent (825 pupils).

And less than month ago Hackney UTC, which opened in September 2012 and filled 77 per cent of its 100 pupil places in the first year, announced it was to shut its doors for good after 2014/15 with just 29 out of its target 75 pupils having applied to join in September. It had been rated as requires improvement (a grade three inspection result) by Ofsted in January.

Despite the issues, the Labour party pledged in June to open a further 100 UTCs in the next parliament if it won next year’s general election, despite concerns raised by the Association of Colleges that UTCs “may not be the best response”.

Nevertheless, all 57 of the 14 to 19 institutions are expected to be open by September 2016, by which point it is estimated that there will be 35,000 UTC student places.

The 600-student Bromley UTC, due to open in September 2016, is a joint venture between Bromley College, Canterbury Christ Church University and King’s College Hospital and is supported by a number of employers such as Oxleas NHS Trust, Nuffield Health, and Mytime Active.

It will be the only one in London and Kent to specialise in health and wellbeing sciences, with specialist courses including genetics and genetic engineering, microbiological techniques, biochemistry and biochemical techniques, laboratory science, forensic science, medical science, environmental science and biological, chemical and physical science. It will also offer a range of courses in sports biomechanics and nutrition.

Bromley College principal Sam Parrett said: “Our vision is to provide outstanding vocational education and train our students for careers in the health and wellbeing science sectors with direct input and support from employers in the industry.”

The 600-student Sheffield Human Sciences and Digital Technologies UTC will be the city’s second UTC and is due to open in September 2016 on the site of the former Don Valley Stadium. The first Sheffield UTC, backed by the Sheffield Hallam University, opened in September and specialises in advanced engineering and manufacturing, creative and digital media.

The city’s new UTC is led by Sheffield College, the city’s two universities, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the city council and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, Boeing (Advance Manufacturing Research Centre) and MLS Contracts.

Andrew Cropley, executive director for strategic planning and business development at Sheffield College, said: “We are delighted the city’s bid for a second UTC has been given the go-ahead.

“We will use all the experience gained from UTC Sheffield, the first of its kind in Yorkshire and the Humber, and work with our partners to create an extraordinary and career focused educational experience for young people who have an interest in the science of the human body and computing.”

The seven newly-announced UTCs:

Bromley UTC
Bromley UTC will cater for 600 students and specialise in the health and wellbeing science sectors. This project is led by Bromley College in partnership with Canterbury Christ Church University and a number of employers including Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, Nuffield Health and Mytime Active. The school will use a project-based learning approach supported by coaching and mentoring.

Crewe UTC
Crewe UTC will cater for 800 students and specialise in engineering, manufacturing and design in an area where there is a high regional demand for engineers and technicians. This project is led by Bentley and OSL Rail in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University and Cheshire East Council. A number of other employers are also engaged including Siemens, Bosch, Oliver Valves, Chevron Racing and Optical 3D.

Leeds UTC
Leeds UTC will cater for 600 students and specialise in advanced manufacturing and engineering. The project is sponsored by the employers Kodak, Siemens, Agfa Graphics and Unilever, in partnership with the University of Leeds. The UTC will integrate vocational and academic subjects in a business-based environment.

Scarborough UTC
Scarborough UTC is sponsored by Unison Ltd, McCain Foods (GB) and Dale Power Solutions, along with the University of Hull and a host of other employer partners. The UTC will specialise in advanced engineering and design and control. The UTC will cater for 600 students and will deliver a curriculum that provides students with the skills that local engineering companies need now and in the future to support the predicted growth in the sector.

Sheffield Human Science and Digital Technologies UTC
Sheffield Human Sciences and Digital Technologies UTC will cater for 600 students and specialise in human sciences and digital technologies. The project is sponsored by the Sheffield College and Sheffield Hallam University and employer partners include Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust, Boeing (Advance Manufacturing Research Centre) and MLS Contracts. The curriculum will be underpinned by work-based learning and employer-led assignments.

South Durham UTC
South Durham UTC will cater for 600 students and specialise in engineering and advanced manufacturing and will be the first UTC to open in the North East. The project is sponsored by the University of Sunderland, Hitachi Rail Europe and Gestamp Tallent Ltd, two major engineering employers from the rail and automotive industries in the region. The UTC’s curriculum has been designed with a focus on local employer need in mind.

WMG Academy for Young Engineers
The WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Solihull will cater for 640 students and specialise in engineering and science. Led by WMG (formerly known as the Warwick Manufacturing Group) at the University of Warwick in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, EEF (the Engineering Employers’ Federation), West Midlands Manufacturing Consortium and Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, with support from other employers including Aero-Engine Controls (part of the Rolls Royce group). It will utilise the employers’ expertise in the automotive, aerospace and construction industries to help prepare students for careers in local high growth sectors. The trust will be opening its first UTC — the WMG Academy for Young Engineers in Coventry — next month.